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THE STORY OF BEOWULF,
I. AND FIRST OF THE KINDRED OF HROTHGAR.
What! we of the Spear-Danes, of yore days, so was it,
That we learn’d of the fair fame, of kings of the folks,
And the athelings a-faring, in framing of valour.
Oft then Scyld the Sheaf-son, from the hosts of the scathers,
From kindreds a many, the mead-settles tore;
It was then the earl fear’d them, sithence was he first,
Found bare and all-lacking; so solace he bided,
Wax’d under the welkin, in worship to thrive,
Until it was so, that the round-about sitters,
All over the whale-road, must hearken his will,
And yield him the tribute. A good king was that,
By whom then thereafter, a son was begotten,
A youngling in garth, whom the great God sent thither,
To foster the folk; and their crime-need he felt,
The load that lay on them, while lordless they lived,
For a long while and long. He therefore, the Life-lord,
The Wielder of glory, world’s worship he gave him:
Brim Beowulf waxed, and wide the weal upsprang,
Of the offspring of Scyld, in the parts of the Scede-lands.
Such wise shall a youngling, with wealth be a-working,
With goodly fee-gifts, toward the friends of his father,
That after in eld-days, shall ever bide with him,
Fair fellows well-willing, when wendeth the war-tide,
Their lief lord a-serving. By praise-deeds it shall be,
That in each and all kindreds, a man shall have thriving.
Then went his ways Scyld, when the shapen while was,
All hardy to wend him, to the lord and his warding:
Out then did they bear him, to the side of the sea-flood,
The dear fellows of him, as he himself pray’d them,
While yet his word wielded, the friend of the Scyldings,
The dear lord of the land; a long while had he own’d it.
With stem all be-ringed, at the hythe stood the ship,
All icy and out-fain, the Atheling’s ferry.
There then did they lay him, the lord well beloved,
The gold-rings’ bestower, within the ship’s barm,
The mighty by mast. Much there was the treasure,
From far ways forsooth, had the fret-work been led:
Never heard I of keel, that was comelier dighted,
With weapons of war, and with weed of the battle,
With bills and with byrnies. There lay in his barm,
Much wealth of the treasure, that with him should be,
And he into the flood’s might, afar to depart.
No lesser a whit, were the wealth-goods they dight him,
Of the goods of the folk, than did they who aforetime,
When was the beginning, first sent him away,
Alone o’er the billows, and he but a youngling.
Moreover they set him, up there a sign golden,
High up overhead, and let the holm bear him,
Gave all to the Spearman. Sad mind they had in them,
And mourning their mood was. Now never knew men,
For sooth how to say it, rede-masters in hall,
Or heroes ‘neath heaven, to whose hands came the lading.
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